Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 15, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all."Lara Jean is a high school junior that has never dated a boy. Instead she writes letters to her crushes with the full intention of never mailing them; it's a form of closure for her. That is until somehow they get mailed! That means her five letters were mailed out including her crush's from summer camp, popular Peter's from school, and her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. This is obviously super embarrassing to Lara Jean especially when it comes to Josh. You see, Lara Jean and Josh were friends first and she still relies on his friendship, but what will happen when he finds out the truth about how she feels? Plus, what will Margot say? Thankfully, she has time to sort this out, since Margot went away to college in Scotland this year. But in order to convince Josh that her letter to him is ancient history, she starts dating Peter, the popular boy at school. Peter and Lara Jean used to be friends in middle school and her letter has brought them back together again. He has agreed to be her fake boyfriend in order to make his ex-girlfriend jealous and prove to Josh that she's doesn't have romantic feelings for him anymore. The more time she spends with charismatic Peter, the more she realizes that he is more than just than just the charming guy everyone loves at school. But what about Josh, the boy she has crushed on for years from afar? Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a sweet story that focuses on first love, but it's so much more than that. It's captivating story about family and one that I didn't want to end.
I think many young girls can relate to Lara Jean in To All the Boys I've Loved Before. She's a bit naive, a good girl, but also wants to figure out her place in not only her family, but also at school. Once she starts "dating" Peter, she is confronted with new problems. Her relationship with Josh turns strange since Margot left; plus, there's the letter! Cue her desire to run away from him. Also, her new relationship with Peter brings out his ex-girlfriend's jealousy towards Lara Jean, which makes her squirm with fear. Lara Jean is just trying to figure it all out, like we all were in high school.
Lara Jean's family is one of the best literary families I have read to date. There's super responsible Margot, who has taken care of her younger sisters since their mother died. She always does the right thing and is a role-model for Lara Jean and Kitty. Once she heads off to college, Lara Jean must take over this role. At first, she struggles a bit as it's hard shoes to fill, but Lara Jean rises to the occasion and takes care of her younger and boisterous sister, Kitty. Kitty is such an awesome character in To All the Boys I've Loved Before. She is spunky, snarky, and downright fun. There's also Margot's father who is a doctor and isn't around as much due to his schedule, but when he is there, he's a good dad and supports his girls. I loved the family dynamic; it was so nice to see in young adult literature. The family traditions were also fantastic and I loved reading about their close-knit family.
Han is one of my favorite authors, so I had high expectations for her writing and was not disappointed with To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Her writing was superb and compulsively readable. I found myself quickly turning the pages and getting lost in Lara Jean's world. Han has a way of writing some of my favorite lines in young adult literature and here's one of my favorite lines from this novel:
"Margot doesn't see the point in wondering. This is our life; there's no use in asking what if. No one could ever give you the answers. I try, I really do, but it's hard for me to accept this way of thinking. I'm always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taken."
There's so much more to this story than just a love triangle. It's a realistic story about finding your way in high school, learning to roll with the changes that come in life and essentially, facing life's problems head on. I highly recommended To All the Boys I've Loved Before for fans of contemporary fiction. There's no doubt that this book will end up on my favorites of 2014 list.